Five key questions to ask yourself during high-growth periods

When the balance sheet is soaring and new business is flying in, it's easy to forget about looking after your existing workforce: here are five questions you can ask yourself to make sure that doesn't happen

Congratulations. Your business is growing as you intended but suddenly it is happening at such a pace you feel like you are skimming everything.

Much as it is tempting to focus all your attention on your products and service delivery there are 5 critical People Must Do’s that you need to be aware of and which will be looked at closely if you go for private investment or consider selling your business.

Have you got the right people?

The people that you hired when you started your business may not be the right ones to lead it now. Loyalty has a place but it isn’t kind or commercial to keep people in posts that they can’t do. Paying someone more or expecting more won’t make them better. Always see what is available in the external market and hire people with the skill set, passion and hunger to grow the business. Likewise there may be roles that you no longer need and which are now redundant. Taking those tough decisions about who to hire and fire are critical. If you really feel uncomfortable doing it, hire a commercial HR consultant to advise and support you.

Have you got the right structure?

An organizational structure needs constant review and input. Your structure should identify what roles you need now or will need if your achieve your business plans and track recruitment plans.  It counts as a fail if someone leaves and you don’t have a pipeline of interested talent that you can slot straight in. If you don’t have an experienced management team yet, get external involvement to advise and support you.

Have you got the right skills?

Some business owners with ambitious growth plans don’t have the management and leadership capability to fully achieve them. The more far-sighted recognise this. A good Business owner/CEO will combine a number of attributes.

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They will have gravitas and personal credibility but will be warm with staff.  Humility will be a key quality as will the ability to listen and learn. They will be good at developing strong relationships as well as focusing on the critical detail and planning ahead.  It’s worth investing is some coaching to support your own development and to ensure anyone you hire compliments your skill set and personality.

Have you go the right systems?  If you are to achieve significant growth, your processes and systems will need to change. You may have recognised this for your core business but often the people side is under invested in with basic processes including payroll, timesheets, and sickness absence and holiday books, still done manually.  Not only does this take more time, it means you have absolutely no data at all on a key area and asset of your business – your people.  These days it is crazy to pay an administrator to do something that a system can do quickly.

Have you got the right terms and conditions?

It is important that all your contractual employment documentation is up-to-date. Acas and government websites provide information so you can update information about statutory entitlements.  It is important to have a good well drafted contract with key policies.

>Related: Ready to mediate? Managing workplace conflict

IP and Data protection are areas many companies forget about. You need to make sure your key staff are on the correct notice periods and that you have the right clauses in the contract to protect your business.  What benefits do you offer and how commercial are they?

We recommend that every fast growing business actively plans a review of HR and People at least once a year. Either done in house or by an experience HR consultancy. It will save you money and give you the reassurance that you are on top of everything.

Ruth Cornish is MD of Amelore, providing HR for ambitious individuals and businesses. Amelore has worked with a number of fast growing businesses including and Ruth appears in the latest book “Shape up your Business” which is aimed at business owners in the fast growth phase and has lots of useful information.

Further reading: Five common growing pains for small businesses

Praseeda Nair

Kellen Rempel

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

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